DEI Council Building Bridges for Acceptance, Understanding
It’s an old rule and a good one: treat others as you want to be treated.
That is a simplified version of the mission of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council. The aim is for everyone to feel included and to know they have a place at Piedmont University, said Dr. Kimberly Griffin, associate dean of education. She serves as co-chair for faculty on the 16-member council, which began meeting regularly last year.
The council has created a DEI statement that details the meaning of each of the three words. Diversity is embracing that every person is unique. Equity is recognizing that “we don’t all start from the same place,” and inclusion means every student, staff, and faculty member is valued, respected, and treated with dignity regardless of their differences.”
Griffin said people tend to tiptoe around one another when talking about hot topics.
“We should be able to have courageous conversations without one person or the other being offended,” Griffin said. “The world we live in is so diverse that if we want our students to go out into the world with knowledge and compassion and an understanding of what the world is like outside of Piedmont, we have to bring the world to Piedmont.”
With a mission to “make Piedmont University a better place for faculty, staff, and students,” the council is tasked with creating “an environment of awareness, understanding, and acceptance by addressing and educating our faculty, staff, students, and stakeholders on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” according to Griffin.
Potential students and their parents may want to know the university’s stance on DEI before deciding whether it is the university for them. Some may want their student to attend an institution where it is stressed, and others may not.
“Either way, the information has to be available for them to understand what Piedmont is doing when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Griffin said.
Griffin said no major issues have been brought before the council yet. For now, its focus is on student organizations and making sure that holidays and important dates are recognized.
Current members of the DEI Council include:
- Executive staff: Dr. Kimberly Crawford
- Co-chairs: Dr. Kimberly Griffin, Zac Moore
- Faculty: Dr. Kimberly Griffin, Dr. William Gabelhausen, Dr. Lillian Reeves, and Dr. Matthew Teutsch
- Staff: Zac Moore, Stephanie Austin-Campbell, Gabriel Gutierrez, Tianashan “Ty” Thomaswick, and Remel Williams
Six to eight students will also serve on the council. Current students include Student Government Association President Michael Mack, Jaela Dodson, Maurilia Oldham, Imani Spence, Odalys Rendon, and Caden Nelms.
“Being disabled, I wanted to make sure that myself and other disabled people felt seen on campus. The fact that Piedmont has a DEI Council makes me feel valued and safe on campus,” Nelms said. “I am proud to be a part of a university and council that strive to be so inclusive and welcoming to all students, faculty, staff, and visitors.”
For more information about Piedmont’s DEI initiative, visit https://www.piedmont.edu/diversity-equity-inclusion/.